The Effect of Numbers of Living Children on Various Factors Correlated with Malnutrition in Preschool Children, Candelaria, Colombia, 1963
Factor Total Population in Category Malnourished Children
Vulnerable ages (12-35 months) 5 or less living children 6 or more living children 312 94 154 53 49.4 56.4
Maternal illiteracy 5 or less living children 6 or more living children 235 71 110 37 46.8 52.1
Maternal age (30 or more years) 5 or less living children 6 or more living children 71 121 25 59 35.2 48.7a
a"p" = less than 0.05; X2 - 3.34. Source: Wray and Aguirre (10).
nourished among 777 children of literate mothers; 48 percent malnourished among 317 children of illiterate mothers). If we assume that the education of the mothers affects the quality of the care they provide their children, this might have been expected. Here, too, however, numbers made a difference: in the children of illiterate mothers there was a difference in the prevalence of malnutrition between those with fewer and those with more siblings. Even these mothers apparently could cope more effectively if they were not overwhelmed by numbers, as may also be seen in Table 23.
Our basic survey had shown that the children most likely to be malnourished were those between 12 and 36 months of age. Here, too, family size had a negative influence: children in this most susceptible age group from the larger families were distinctly more likely to be malnourished than those from smaller families, as is evident in Table 23.
It seems quite evident that under the circumstances which prevail in Candelaria, parents, poor as they are, are better able to provide for their children if the numbers are not too great. Whether the problem be poverty or ignorance, both of which are almost universally implicated as causal factors in malnutrition, the effects of either are made worse by too many children in the family.
Douglas and Blomfield, in their discussion of the interrelations of family size with other factors affecting growth in the National Study children, made the following comments:ate (38 percent mal-ssible that when a certain level of material prosperity is reached in the family the nutrition of the child is likely to be adequate whatever the capacity of the mother. Below a certain level, on the other hand, even the best managerpears, then, that larger families may be depriving themselves of medical care in order to meet other needs. No data are available to indicate whether the amount of free medical care received by low income families would alter this picture. However, free medical programs would not have any appreciable effect on families with incomes higher than $3,000 or $4,000 per year.